PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
Projects require specific steps to reach a successful completion, and a project management plan is essential to determining the outcome of the project, how a successful result can be achieved, how the project will be measured or communicated, and who gets to be involved in the entire process. The project management plan is simply a blueprint for the project. It points out to a set goal, the impact it will have on the organization, the hurdles that may be encountered on the course of the project, the costs and reward at the completion and shows in detail the people and process involved in achieving the goal.
The planning stage of a project is critical to project management planning because several high priority issues are pointed out, issues such as time, cost, resources, quality and risk management. Project managers know that the planning stage of a project involves an enormous amount of work from determining the scope of the project to identify external and internal stakeholders, and aligning the project procedures with overarching company goals amongst other components to see that the output of the project is a success.
A project plan can serve as reference material by the project team and stakeholders for decision making and also for clarification on ambiguous phases. The project plan document can be used as a reference by the project manager and their team members to ensure that a project is carried out in line with the policy and procedures stated in the project plan. A project plan should be updated whenever there are changes in the project requirements. Beyond setting the procedure of the project at ease for team members, a detailed project plan keeps stakeholders and decision-makers in the know about the project as a whole. They are kept ahead of the communication processes, predicted setbacks, timeline and resources involved; this will help build their confidence in the team on the project.
It is a common mistake in recent times to use a project schedule in place of project management planning. This misconception is shared in a distressing number of project managers as most think that the Gantt chart is the same as a project management plan. The Gantt chart is a project schedule that shows when various sections of the project are expected to happen. This common misconception, however, is robbing the project management plan of the accolades it deserves. As explained earlier, a project management plan is a formal document that highlights the procedures of a project from the stakeholders to the completion. Project plans, far more than schedules, give decision-makers detailed information that will help them decide whether to pursue or abort a project.
ESSENTIALS OF A PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLAN
Planning a project requires a lot of information, and this is influenced strongly by the nature and scope of the project; it’s a perfect place to start the essential elements for an ideal project plan by defining the cope of it. Below is a detailed essential component to include in a project management plan:
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: This is a rather brief write up that is dedicated to communicating an overview of the elements described in a project plan.
SCOPE OF PROJECT: This is the first essential element to consider when building a project plan; without a range, there is no project. The scope of a project determines the aims, objectives and goals of the project. Determining the scope of the project sets a concrete foundation for understanding amongst stakeholders and secure project development in the course of the initiative.
Project managers should go the extra mile to highlight projected grey areas bordering the scope and get it looked into immediately. Hasty assumptions and overlooking these grey areas may lead to more significant issues later on. Setting things straight and putting them on the right path will be advantageous down the line.
RISK ASSESSMENT: This element addresses the risks associated with a project and also highlights the issues that may arise during the project development process. Risk assessment is a vital component in planning projects. Identifying the possible risks and finding out ways to curtail them is crucial in the outcome of the project.
PROJECT SCHEDULE: The importance of a project schedule is the reason most project managers mistake it as the sole component of the project management plan. A project schedule, however, is different from a project plan. It is the element of a program that provides vital information about the job activities schedule and project milestones. A project schedule focuses on identifying deliverables, due dates, durations and dependencies.
BUDGET ESTIMATE: Budget and schedule go hand in hand. A project that is dragging behind on plans is likely to cost more on budget. Budget or cost estimates are essential to a project as there will be no materialization without assessments. The total cost of a project should be divided into assets impact, labour costs, and direct expenses.
CHANGE AND COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT: The project plan must state the mechanism of communication that will be adopted by the project manager to pass information across stakeholders and team members. An active communication pathway will ensure that all the project team members and stakeholders are informed about the project development process in record time. The communication emails should be concise and clear so that the stakeholders easily understand them. The change management should highlight the process of reporting formal change requests to project baselines (risk management, budget, scope, etc.) as well as handling project performance.
HR AND MATERIAL REQUIREMENT: The HR element of a project plan focuses on the capable hands to assign tasks to the project. This component identifies team members and their responsibilities. It also gives room for training team members to ensure quality Is delivered.
Material requirements include any resources essential for executing the project.
A well thought out plan may not be an easy trail to follow, but a project manager must implement these components to ensure the smooth running of projects.